It’s good to see Jeff Bercovici land on his feet after Portfolio’s demise. At Daily Finance, he quotes News Corp. chief digital officer Jonathan Miller on canceling his WSJ Online subscription:
I went from paying $14 to The Wall Street Journal to paying $10 to Amazon. Now the splits there, and I think this is relatively well known, are very, very much in favor of Amazon. So I became very much less valuable to The Wall Street Journal. That’s part one. Part two is they don’t know I exist. I went from being someone who’s their subscriber to being someone who is an Amazon subscriber, which The Wall Street Journal has no visibility back to and cannot manage that customer relationship… . So they’ve lost both the customer management and, trust me, the lion’s share of the economics.
Those “splits” he speaks of mean that publishers get less than a third of the subscription revenue from Amazon, as we pointed out here. The Kindle numbers don’t work, and they put another barrier between publishers and their audience.
Let’s hope the Plastic Logic model turns out better. And it’s interesting to note that E Ink, which is the foundation technology for these readers, got purchased the other day for $215 million.
Somebody sees a bright future in this business.Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum.